August 2006 // Volume 44 // Number 4 // Tools of the Trade // 4TOT4

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Altering Adult-Based Beef Quality Assurance Curriculum for Youth Education

Quality Assurance training for youth has focused on avoidance of drug and chemical contamination and placed little emphasis on carcass defects such as bruising. In order to reduce the incidence of carcass defects, youth need an understanding of animal behavior and how it is affected by the animal's environment. Two hundred seventy-three youth completed pre- and post-program tests of knowledge as it relates to animal behavior and handling. Pre-test results showed that participants had prior knowledge of the impacts of improper animal handling. The post-program test indicated increased knowledge and understanding of the environmental effects and inherent behavior of livestock.

John Yost
Extension Agent, Fayette Co.
Washington Courthouse, Ohio

Stephen Boyles
Beef Specialist
Columbus, Ohio

Ohio State University


Youth educators are often faced with the challenge of adapting materials to a youth audience. As the complexity of the materials increases, so does the challenge of determining a method for presenting it to youth.

There is a need to educate youth producers on the importance of responsible livestock management. Efforts have been made to inform youth about the importance of avoiding chemical residues (Goodwin, 1998; Nold & Hanson, 2001), and making ethical decisions (Goodwin, 1996; Goodwin, Murphy, & Briers, 2002). This article describes the youth application of adult materials on cattle handling.


A handbook and miniaturized corral kits were created to provide a hands-on, learning module for adults. A scenario for a program is as follows.

  1. The program is held in an auction facility.

  2. Participants hear lecture on corral design.

  3. Participants are divided into three groups.

  4. Teams utilize one of the kits to develop a corral.

  5. Everyone comes back together.

  6. An evaluation form is distributed.

  7. The teams defend their designs.

The challenges to overcome were: 1) modifying the program so it is applicable for all project species and 2) ensuring equal participation by all youth participants. The scenario of the program is as follows.

  1. A pre-program evaluation is given to test initial skills.

  2. A presentation is given related to the evaluation questions.

  3. Participants are divided into groups of 10 based on 4-H/FFA project species.

  4. Each group is given a sheet of "flip chart" paper and a felt marker.

  5. Groups draw the type of facilities they need for their projects.

  6. The groups are asked to present their facilities. No critiquing allowed.

  7. A post-program evaluation is given.


The study was composed of 273 4-H and FFA youth ranging in age from 8 to 19 years old. Participants were engaged in livestock projects. The instrument was administered as a pre-program and post-program evaluation (Table 1).

Table 1.
Animal Behavior Instrument


Possible Answers

1. Safe animal handling involves a knowledge of:

A: Animal Behavior*

B. Proper facilities design*

C. Proper handling technique*

D. Being smarter than the animal

2. Injuries can be caused by:

A. Inadequate facilities*

B. Worker preoccupation*

C. Impatience*

D. Anger of handler or animal*

E. Sun Spots

3. Animals can be frightened by:

A. Obstructions*

B. Noises*

C. Shadows*

D. People*

E. Separation from other animals*

F. Scary monsters

4. An animal's "blind spot" is located

A. Directly in front

B. Directly behind*

C. Beside

D. Underneath

E. On top

5. An animal's "flight zone" is:

A. Where they get onto a plane

B. The animal's "personal space"*

6. Stress can cause:

A. Reduced immunity*

B. Reduced conception rates*

C. Increased incidence of DFD or PSE*

7. Why do animals get excited?

A. Low pay

B. Genetics*

C. Agitated by other animals*

D. Negative previous experiences*

E. Alcoholism

* = correct response


Statistical Analysis

The correct answers by each student were calculated within each question for both pre- and post-test surveys. A one-way ANOVA was used.


The percent correct answers increased for all questions except for question 5 relating to flight zones for animals (Table 2). Changes were also seen in the number of youth identifying all possible correct answers for each question.

Table 2.
Percent response for Each Question





1.Safe animal handling




2. Injuries




3. Frightened animal




4. Blind spot




5. Flight zone




6. Stress




7. Excited




P < 0.05; * = significant difference


While a specific question may indicate an overall improvement, there may be a decline in percent correct answers for one or more answers within a question. There was a 10.5% improvement in the percent of correct answers for question 1. Answer A increased 22.3%, and answer B increased 20.5%, but there was a decline in successful responses for answer C of 10.2%. With the exception of answer 1C, all negative changes were not significant. Participants increased their knowledge of safe animal handling.


The format of the program provided a means for participation by all members. There was observable interaction of older and younger participants during the drawing sessions. The younger participants had an opportunity to learn from the more experienced youth and yet provide equal input on the drawings. Each member is encouraged to voice contribution to the project. Through development of the facility and presentation of the drawing, members are able to develop their communication, teamwork, and leadership skills.


Goodwin, J. L., Murphy, T., & Briers, G. (2002). Measuring the ethical cognition effects of a videotape livestock show ethics eeducation program. Journal of Extension [On-line], 40(6). Available at:

Goodwin, J. L. (1998). Quality assurance: Strengthening the chain of wholesome food production [Videotape]. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Instructional Materials Service.

Goodwin, J. L. (1996). The line in the sand [Videotape]. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Instructional Materials Service.

Nold, R., & Hanson, D. (2001). Effectiveness of quality assurance training for youth. Journal of Extension [On-line], 39(2). Available at: